Lenovo ThinkPad Z61t Review

This is a review for the new 14.1 widescreen ThinkPad Z61t with titanium cover. The Z61t is the update to the newer widescreen Z series of ThinkPads. It sports Intel's Core Duo processor. The Z series is the more multimedia oriented notebook in the ThinkPad line with a widescreen display, built-in web cam, media card reader, FireWire connector and more. It combines the convenience and mobility of a notebook with the performance and functionality of a desktop.
Reason for Buying
I used to have a Dell Inspiron 1100, bought 3 years ago just because I thought it was a good deal. It used a 2 GHz Celeron processor. I soon realized what a mistake it was. I used to curse it every other day. It was nothing but a brick and after 1 year of it would mysteriously shutdown after using it for more than 2 hours. It was producing enough heat to keep my house warm in winter. I ditched it after just 1 years of use. I was somehow managing with my office supplied Pentium III 900 MHz desktop.Then along came my daughter, who is 4 months old now. My wife started complaining that I was spending too much time at the home-office with my desktop, not spending enough time with my daughter. She couldn't find time to use the desktop as well, as the baby needed constant attention. So I decided I needed to get a laptop so that I could watch TV, watch my daughter and browse all at the same time. I also wanted something light so that I can easily carry it around the house with one hand. Another requirement was to have all the data to be in one secure place. I have an external USB hard disk /printer/ DVD burner, LCD monitor etc. Also I make it a point to backup my computer frequently with the external hard disk. I couldn't afford to connect all these accessories and disconnect them one by one when I needed to carry the laptop. So, a mature and easy docking solution was a must.
How and Where Purchased
My initial budget was around $1000. I started with Sony but didn't really like their pricing and lack of core duo in a 14-inch laptop. My friend had a Fujitsu notebook and I was impressed with its quality. But I couldn't configure a Fujitsu notebook for less than $2000 with a core duo processor. I spent some time looking at an HP dv2000t, but their docking solution is a joke. Plus, the build quality wasn't enough for me. Next was the Dell latitude D620. The build quality looked good. I'm not sure why I looked at Dell again given my first experience, but either way I decided against the D620 at the last moment because of lack of S-video and previous Dell nightmares. I then found NotebookReview.com and took my friend's suggestion to take a look at ThinkPads. I didn't know Lenovo had widescreen consumer oriented notebooks. After researching for 2-days I was hooked. I needed a ThinkPad at any cost. I raised my budget to $1,400 but still couldn't configure one with Bluetooth and a DVD writer for under $1,600 with tax. Then I figured out that IBM has EPP pricing which really makes sense. Dell has 12% EPP, but after researching I found Dell EPP was more expensive than non-EPP if you use certain Dell coupons. HP just gives you 10% for EPP. After raising my budget to $1,800, I found an IBM consultant at work and got access to EPP pricing. I had to ship the notebook to Delaware to save $110 tax.
The total cost was, $1,599 ( laptop ) + $265 ( Advanced Dock) + $92 ( 3 year warranty) - $200 ( Discount) = $1,756. The web price will be around $2,600 with tax. I will talk about the additional $200 discount in the support section!
ThinkPad Z61t specs as reviewed:
2.0 GHz Intel T2500 Core Duo
14.1" WXGA+, 1440X900 LCD display
100GB hard drive (5400rpms)
CD-RW/ 8X DVD-RW Multi-burner
Modem Built-in Camera and microphone
Sudden motion sensor
Fingerprint Reader
802.11 a/b/g wireless built-in
Verizon EVDO built-in
3-in-one card reader
3-year international depot warranty
4.3 lbs Plus
Z61 advanced Dock
Model# 94402CU
Build & Design
The Z61t is built solidly but not rock solid like T series. It was a little thicker than I imagined. The titanium cover is a plus and looks decent unlike those shiny HP laptops. As soon as you open the screen, you will notice that this laptop feels solid. The inside is made from rugged and elegant high quality plastic.Two metal hinges of same size support the display. There is no wobbling when opening and closing the lid. You will need both the hands to open the screen. Also, if you try to open it with just one hand, you don't see the screen bend like other laptops. The look and feel of the area around the screen might even make you think it's made of metal not plastic. The only thing that looks plastic is the shiny EVDO antenna cover which is attached to the screen.To get an idea of the relative thickness of the Z61t, I placed 2 miniDV tapes next to the laptop. The laptop is around 1 inch thick.

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